Monday, December 18, 2006
Are we really prepared for the flu?
"The nation is nowhere near as prepared as we should be for bioterrorism, bird flu and other health disasters," says the Trust for America's Health, a prominent group that promotes public health and emergency preparedness.

Just one example: During even a moderate flu pandemic, half the states would run out of hospital beds within two weeks, the group says. The news isn't all bad. For example, every state has at least started planning for a flu disaster. In 2003, just 13 states had even considered the possibility.

On a related note, health officials from around the country gathered recently to discuss what they might do to slow a pandemic. There's a lot of talk about 1918, which saw the worst influenza pandemic ever recorded - though not as bad, we're cautioned, as the next one could be. In 1918, a new flu strain - which, by the way, mutated from a version found in chickens - killed at least 100 million people around the world in a matter of months. 600,000 people died in the United States.

New research, led by University of Michigan historian Howard Markel, examines how 45 major cities handled the outbreak. St. Louis closed schools and banned public gatherings when the city still had relatively few influenza cases. Philadelphia did the same things, but not until the disease was burning through its population like a brush fire. Everywhere, the pattern was the same. The scope of the catastrophe could be explained almost solely by how quickly health officials moved to prevent large gatherings.

Most people think our best hope against killer flu is finding a vaccine, or the right medicine. But even today, it may be more important to keep from being exposed in the first place. Would your boss let you stay home, or telecommute, if an outbreak lasted months? How long would your child's school stay open?

Better to think about these questions now, than when a crisis is in full swing.

You can see whether the Trust For America's Health thinks your state is ready, at
I won't get a flu shot, there's too much mercury in the shot. Our family just did a hair analysis & we have way too much mercury thanks to the consumption of fish. (I don't eat fish & I'm the only one in our family with no mercury & I have a mouth full of silver fillings). The best defense against the flu is a healthy immune system. Besides, it's a crap shoot for them to get the right flu for the current shot.
I am ready for battle with the flu. I have Cold-FX and loaded up with chicken soup. I am hoping that maybe I will get sick, just so the love of my life, will give me a back rub that I have not had in about 7 months.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.